Bladder Infections - Causes, Symptoms and Herbal Remedies
1) Are bladder infections contagious?
One cannot contract a bladder infection directly from another person. It is more common in women and girls. Perhaps this is because the urethra of a woman is shorter than a man’s, meaning it is likely easier for bacteria to get to the bladder in women than in men.
Other likely reason for bladder infections is trying to “hold it in” instead of urinating when the urge comes, low water intake, or even irritation from harsh soaps and detergents.
2) Bladder infections in men
Although it is more common in women, it can also occur in men. This can manifest in the following symptoms for men:
Pain during urination
Constant feeling of urge to urinate
Pain felt in the lower abdomen, slightly above the pelvic bone
Hematuria, or blood found in the urine
The causes for bladder infection in man may also vary from causes of the condition for women. It may develop when men experience prostate enlargement (benign prostate hyperplasia). When a prostate is enlarged, normal urinal flow can get blocked as it goes out of the bladder and into the urethra. Some urine residue that gets left behind can get infected. Kidney stone formation may also be a culprit, as well as stricture of the urethra. Any possible reasons for urine blockage can be a likely cause of bladder infection.
3) Bladder infections in the elderly
Elderly people have a higher risk of bladder infection too. This is because they take more medications than younger people and prolonged medication can weaken the body’s natural immune system
Another risk factor for elderly people is urinary catheters. Urinary catheters are administered for people who have difficulty urinating the normal way. When urine is passed outward from the body, it can also transfer bacteria from the outside and straight inside the urinary tract onto the bladder. Catheters are usually administered to people suffering from:
Inability to control their urine passage
Obstructed bladder and enlarged prostate
Scarring in the urethra due to some trauma
Bladder condition caused by any neurological dysfunction
People who have some form of paralysis, such as those who have just experienced stroke, multiple sclerosis, and nervous system disorders, are at a higher risk of getting bladder infections than the rest of the general population. Any of these conditions mentioned causes the urine to be retained in the bladder instead of being emptied out. When urine stays far too long, bacterial waste found in the urine may initiate the infection.
4) Bladder infections symptoms
One can feel if one is most likely afflicted by it because the symptoms are quite noticeable.
General symptoms include the following:
A painful, burning sensation during urination (the most common sign)
Constant urge to urinate
Urinating in only small amounts each time despite the frequent urge to urinate
Cloudy or bloody urine accompanied by a strong, foul smell
Spasms in the bladder
Pain felt in the area of the pelvic bone
Uncontrolled, involuntary loss of urine
Tenderness felt on the flanks and lower abdomen
In the elderly: lethargy and/or mental confusion may indicate a more serious condition such as urinary tract infection.
A more serious case could show fevers, chills, vomiting, and nausea. It may also mean that the infection has reached the kidneys.
5) Treatment of bladder infections
Conventional treatments for it are usually done by proper usage of antibiotics. Selecting the type of antibiotic and deciding on the duration of its treatment depend on the seriousness of the condition, previous history of possible recurrence, and other factors unique to the patient such as age, gender, allergies, medication currently taken, or other possible sickness. In addition to an antibiotic, medication to address other symptoms may be used, such as pyridium which relieves pain during urination due to infection.
For very mild and recurrent infections, self-medication may be acceptable. But it is best to use natural means for this. In addition, natural alternative means should only be used for prevention and mild cases.
Judiciously following the prescribed antibiotic treatment and maintaining proper hydration are important practices to treating these infections.
6) Bladder pain
Bladder pain is commonly attributed to these three conditions: bladder infections, urinary tract infections, and bladder cancer. All these three conditions affect the lining the bladder in one way or other, so that they inevitably cause bladder pain.
When it occurs, the bladder wall gets inflamed and irritated. This leads the wall to stiffen, making expansion difficult when the bladder fills with urine. Recurrent infections can also lead to defect in the bladder lining.
7) Bladder prolapse
For women the bladder is supported by the front wall of the vagina. Over time, the wall loses it sturdiness and weakens because of age. Other trauma to it, such as childbirth can also affect the vaginal wall. When this wall gets worn enough, it results in bladder prolapse, wherein the bladder descends into the vagina. Problems may ensue from this, including difficulties in urination, general discomfort, urine leakage caused by stress, such as sneezing, coughing and exertion.
Prolapsed bladders may be determined according to severity, from mild to complete. This condition usually occurs around menopause. Before menopause, the regular supply of estrogen in women keeps the vaginal wall strong. Depletion of this hormone weakens the vaginal muscles.
8) Bladder stones
Bladder stones are small masses of accumulated mineral in the bladder, more especially when urine is highly concentrated. When urine also stays too long in the bladder, such as when people try to hold it in, the chemicals start to bind together, forming crystals that start to enlarge over time. Another cause for bladder stones is poor balance of carbohydrates and protein.
Sometimes, bladder stones can only be detected when the more noticeable symptoms appear, such as pain in the lower abdomen, pain upon urination, and blood in the urine. It can, however, still occur unnoticed. If it is small enough, it can simply be passed out eventually. But then larger stones would need to be medically treated either by medication or even surgery.
9) Causes of bladder infections
It is caused by bad bacteria that have entered the urinary system. Bacteria can either come from outside, travelling through the urethra and into the bladder.
Bacteria can also be carried by the urine and be led to the bladder. If urine were to stay long enough, these bacteria can grow along its walls, infecting them.
Women are more likely to get it because of their shorter urethra.
Some common bacteria causing such infections are Escherichia coli (E. coli), staphylococci, Proteus, Klebsiella, and Enterococcus. On very rare instances, fungi can be the culprit, such as candida.
10) How does cranberry juice affect bladder infections?
In a study on the cranberry juice, researchers found that cranberry metabolites keep the E. coli from clinging to other bacteria, thus impeding their growth. Numerous studies have since then proven the efficacy of cranberry juice in inhibiting growth and spreading of bacteria associated to infections.
Although doctors still emphasize that consultation with a physician is best in completely treating infections, cranberry is a good home remedy in supplementing traditional treatment and preventing recurrence.
11) Basic care of the Gall bladder
The ball bladder is a hollow organ located in the lower abdomen and is used as a repository for urine. When urine starts to fill it up, its wall stretch and expand. And when urine is passed, these walls contract to squeeze the urine out.
Gall bladder problems are usually associated with bothersome and painful symptoms, it is best to avoid them. Basic care of one’s bladder includes:
Drinking at least three litres every day keeps urine less concentrated, preventing the accumulation of urine residue and deposits in the bladder that cause infections.
Regulating meals and making sure to eat breakfast. Irregular meals, that is, large portions in one meal, and little to nothing in the next meal schedule, can cause undue stress to the bladder that may cause infections and other disorders in the bladder.
12) Irritable bladder
Irritable bladder occurs when the bladder contracts improperly, causing frequent urination and urge incontinence. Medications for this help bladder relaxation. Medication should be taken for about three months to check its effectiveness on the patient. Exercises may also be done to relax the bladder. Sometimes, when the bladder does not contract properly, the urine may not completely be removed out of the bladder. Or it passes urine in small amounts but more frequently.
13) Overactive bladder
In contrast to irritable bladder, the overactive bladder contracts suddenly and involuntarily, even when it isn’t completely full. There are no apparent causes for this condition; for example, it is not due to an enlarged prostate or an infection.
14) Recurring bladder infections
Recurring bladder infection is quite common, especially in women. There is no clear cause why infections recur. It is possible that the body’s defence may have been altered when undergoing treatment following infection, so that upon lifting the medication, bacteria may be more likely to stick this time around. Consistently poor hygiene may be a probable cause, too. One should also note that longstanding infection even with treatment warrants more inspection and tests.
15) Bladder cancer
Bladder cancer starts developing in the cells lining the bladder interior. It usually affects older people, but can also happen at any age.
Most reported cases of bladder cancer are detected at its early state, wherein the cancer is still very treatable. The bad news is that early-stage bladder cancer can recur. For this reason, it is recommended that survivors religiously continue with follow-up tests.
16) How to prevent bladder problems
High-fibre cereals help keep the bladder clean preventing infections.
Half a glass of wine every day helps dissolve some small stones that can develop in the bladder
Keeping active helps flush out waste that can form stones
Eating a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet also helps.
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